B.C.’s homeless, vulnerable only receive adequate care when nearing death: study

Researchers out of the University of Victoria spent more than 300 hours with 25 homeless, barely-housed people with life-threatening sicknesses

A two-year study that followed 25 homeless or barely-housed people with life-threatening medical conditions in Victoria has found that many are only given appropriate health care once inching closer to death.

Researchers out of the University of Victoria spent more than 300 hours with the 25 people, following them to medical appointments and with social care workers, according to a report released Thursday.

The study also involved almost 150 interviews with those suffering, as well as with their close friends and family. Thirteen people died during the two-year study.

According to their report, researchers found that those living on the streets suffering from cancer, heart failure and lung disease are open to more vulnerabilities than those who are able to access palliative care – the end-of-life health services which include pain management, increased supports and help for caregivers.

READ MORE: Housing would cut number of B.C.’s vulnerable re-admitted to hospital: study

Kelli Stajduhar, lead investigator with UVic’s Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health, said in a news release that palliative care not only prevents and eases suffering, but alleviates the harms of homelessness through whole-person care addressing the basic needs lacking for street-entrenched people.

Kelli Stajduhar, lead researcher of ‘Too Little, Too Late’ (Submitted)

While the study found that people experience the same injustices while dying as they commonly face in their daily lives – including stigmatization, criminalization, racialization and exclusion – once they can access palliative care their access to food, shelter and social support increases.

“Being labelled ‘palliative’ opened people up to a basket of services and resources previously unavailable to them,” Stajduhar said.

READ MORE: Tent cities show urgency for affordable housing needed yesterday: advocates

Ten participants ended their lives in a palliative care unit, the report reads, where they reported they received the best care of their lives.

Grey Showler, director of health and support services with Victoria Cool Aid Society, said people dealing with homelessness and life-threatening conditions typically don’t get diagnosed until late in their illness, both due to “survival priorities” and poor treatment within the health care system.

People experiencing homelessness face many barriers to accessing care, he said, including policies that can prevent health care workers from entering sites where people are living and a lack of support for friends who are caring for them.

Researchers have made a number of recommendations that they believe will help bridge the gap between end-of-life care and some of Canada’s most vulnerable, including adapting policies to address barriers some face in formal health care settings, develop mobile palliative care services, and support non-traditional families in the decision-making process of someone’s health plan.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Last of southern Selkirk caribou relocated to Revelstoke area

One cow from the South Selkirk herd and two from the Purcells were moved this week

How to stay safe in the Nakusp backcountry: BCSARA

The B.C. Search and Rescue Association recommends planning, training and taking the essentials

Skier caught in backcountry avalanche near Rossland

‘The man was lucky he had the ‘A-Team’ of ski patrol people able to respond as quickly as they did,’ says Rossland rescue spokesperson

Kootenays unemployment rate best in B.C.

In one year, the region has gone from highest unemployment rate to lowest, at 3.1 per cent

Nakusp search and rescue group seeks volunteers

Senior Nakusp SAR member Ross Shkuratoff says the group is on the lookout for new members

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

BREAKING: Jury finds man accused of killing B.C. girl, 12, guilty

Twelve-year-old Monica Jack disappeared in May 1978 while riding her bike along a highway in Merritt, B.C.

In limbo: Leftover embryos challenge clinics, couples

Some are outright abandoned by people who quit paying storage fees and other couples struggle with tough decisions

Most Read